I have met Guntur a couple of years ago on my first trip to Mentawai islands. Since then we shared quite a few adventures including being lost at sea at night during a heavy rain storm and being shipwrecked at Riffles. That was pretty weird, our stuff floating around the half sunken boat and us sitting on our surfboards slowly drifting away from the wreck with the current, not being completely sure what to do. Luckily all the adventures had a happy ending. Guntur is also a really nice guy and a good surfer. His surfing gets better every time I visit the island. He is one of the most stylish surfers I have ever seen. He can just stand on the board and go straight and it looks good :).
His home, the Mentawai islands are a place where dry bags are needed daily. Tropical rainstorms are coming and going like airplanes on a busy airport. At the same time a boat is the only mode of transport and only way to get from, to and in between the islands. So there are plenty of opportunities for your things to get wet.
This is why Guntur is the perfect guy to be the first one on the DryTide team.
Can you introduce yourself
My name is Guntur, I am 25 years old. I come from North of Siberut, Mentawai, Indonesia.
How and when did you come to Mentawais and how did you start surfing?
Actually I was born in Mentawai and I am Mentawaian hahaha. I started surfing in Padang when I was 18 years old. There are some bachbreaks with sand bottom there and this is where I started. I was staying in Padang since I was studying in the university. When I quit my studies I went to Nyang Nyang island to find a job and I was lucky enough to find it. This meant that I could go surfing and that I also had work. So now I do both, I surf and I work haha.
What was the reason that you started surfing?
Surfing, it was just a new hobby for me and I thing is… surfing is really fun. The funnest thing I have ever tried. So I was soon hooked.
What do you like about it (surfing)? What does it mean to you? Anything that you don’t like?
The feeling of freedom. You know, when I am in the water I feel free. Also to surf those waves, to be in contact with nature, to share the waves with people, to meet new people, new friends, I love that. Also, I love learning how to control myself, my body on the wave, to progress as a surfer.
What is the status of surfing among the locals (speaking Mentawais in general)? Do many locals surf? What is the average surfing level? What do people think about surfing? Who is the best local surfer in Mentawais:)?
I would say in the last 3 years many locals started surfing. So you have all sorts of local surfers, from lots of beginners up to some really good surfers. Who is the best surfer in Mentawai? There are a few guys in Mentawais that are really good. I don’t know them all but I do know some – Andy, Dody and others.
People that don’t surf still see that surfing is changing things in the islands. And it is not only surfing and some of the best waves on the planet that bring people here. Fishing, snorkeling, diving and yeah, the islands themselves. I feel they are different from any other place on Earth. I hope we can keep a good balance between nature and building and progress. I really hope the government puts in some good rules and that local people support that balance as well.
There are many pro surfers coming to Mentawais, how is that?
Yeah, there are many pro surfers coming to Mentawai. Like Kelly Slater, Jordy Smith, Joel Parkinson, John John Florence and many more. I saw and I surfed with Yago Dora, Mitch Coleborn, Jack Freestone, Josh Kerr, Craig Anderson and lots of others. I can’t remember all the names:). They are mostly were cool in the water, good guys. The one that stayed in my mind the most is Andy Irons, I like this guy. He was crazy in the barrel, charging and yeah, I like Andy. He is my favorite surfer.
Did the islands and surfing in Mentawais change in the time you are here?
Yeah, the islands changed a lot. You can see that for yourself every time you come here. Always something new:)!
There is a lot of talk of ocean pollution especially with plastic in recent years. How are things in Mentawais? Do people care about the environment or is that not an issue?
We care about the environment for sure. Sometimes it just feels like there could be more support from the government.
Where would you go surfing if you could go anywhere you wanted and why?
Morocco! I have never been there, but I was checking it out on Google and I also have a friend who lives there and has a surf camp so I could stay with him. I would love to surf those right hand point breaks, and also see the culture, meet the people, I think they are nice. It seems like a paradise for the regular footers and I am a regular footer haha.